Ham radio modding


I was pondering our archive and noticed that we’ve never given attention to some of the more interesting amateur radio hacks. I’d say that most of the amateur radios on the market are susceptible to modding. The mods generally result in a wider band of transmission or reception. I used to own an Icom 706MKII – a serious mobile rig that, after removing a diode or two, gains an extremely wide transmission band. You can find a range of mods here – most are just a quick google away. (The FCC won’t be happy if they find you using an unlicensed device, but there’s an argument for having the capability in case of emergency.)

Comments

  1. grendelt says:

    Ah yes, the only “Mars” uncap trick. It’s become trivial to ‘mod’ your radio these days. Especially since so much of the radio is controlled on a chip.
    I know SOMEONE that has an unlocked 706mkIIg, one diode was all it took. 73

  2. Liam says:

    ten-four, hackaday

  3. ac7fa says:

    Many hams will claim that amateur radio ops were pioneer hardware hackers. Might be true. It’s a very old hobby.

  4. nullset says:

    Actually if you have an amateur radio license you are explicitly ALLOWED to modify your equipment.

    You are NOT allowed to modify CB equipment (without a special license, that is)

  5. Thijs says:

    i’ve looked at the pic
    and i can’t see a diode anywhere..
    there’s just a row of soldering pads, and there seems not to be any diode..
    am i wrong?
    Thijs

  6. luigi517 says:

    ahh its about time we saw some radio hacks, good job

  7. Dax says:

    #5

    Look closely and there is an ARROW pointing at the diode.

    Or, you could just RTFA…

  8. scientist says:

    The diode has been removed…so you wont see it

    Part of being a Ham is being a pioneer in different radio technologies…PSK32, packet radio in general, ARPS…all sorts of fun stuff. With that territory comes modifying everything you have handy to make it work like you want it to…which inadvertantly leaves you as a hardware hacker ^_^

    Best 73/s to the other folks out there ^_^

    -sCi

  9. Dogbreath says:

    I like radio mods and have done a few myself but I am more into CB radio mods,, bit cheaper than the Ham rigs.

  10. Aaron says:

    This is great, I too have the 706MK2G. It’s a great all use rig. This hack is probably the first I will preform in all the years I’ve been at this site.

  11. strider_mt2k says:

    One of the reasons i like wireless networking so much is that it combines tinkering with computers and tinkering with RF!

    73 DE N2NLQ!

  12. sigopig says:

    Whats a good moddable radio to buy? I’ve been in comms with the Canadian Forces for a number of years and always had an interest. I’d like something i can mount in my car as well as run in my computer room. Thanks

  13. Josh says:

    I’m a ham operator (KC9JEF) and have done this for one of my radios.

    I own a (recently bought at hamfest) a handheld Kenwood TH-AT25 that does 2 meter. 2 Meter is the wavelength that corresponds to amateur radio 144-148 MHz. A mod for this one is NOT suggested as it requires retuning the pll’s. Not fun.

    The next radio I have is another handheld Icom IC-V8. It’s a awesome rugged radio that with the removal of 3 diodes, gives me full frequency Tx (133-174 MHz) and scrambling. The PCB papers give full instructions how to convert this ham radio to a military radio (yes, its what they use).

    My last is a Yaesu FT-7800 that I use in my car. It’s Tx is 144MHz and 440MHz, but wide receive. I’ve not looked into hacking this one as it was kinda pricy.

    If anything, ham radio hacking is very cool, and if there really IS an emergency, you can give your handheld to an emergency staff and let them communicate. Even our area is dual 155 MHz and 800MHz with repeaters on each frequency (fire/ambulance/police).

  14. Steve says:

    Question for KC9JEF. The mod you did to your Icom V8 -what type of scrambling does it do? Just simple voice inversion?

    I use the commercial version of this radio -F3GS which can do scrambling with the addition of one of two modules.

    Steve Kc2GOG

    kc2gog@yahoo.com

  15. Ian says:

    I’m also a licensed ham and there’s some incorrect info that’s been posted.

    It’s not illegal to modify a radio to transmit on frequencies it’s not supposed to transmit on, nor is it illegal to own such a radio. It IS however, illegal to actually transmit on frequencies you don’t have a license for. Which means that “if you have an amateur radio license you are explicitly allowed to modify your equipment” is kind of silly; you don’t need a license at all to own or modify radios, you need a license to transmit, and no class of ham license allows you to transit on non-ham frequencies anyway.

    The only circumstances in which it would be legal to use a modified ham radio to transmit on non-licensed frequencies (even including MURS or FRS/GMRS frequencies) would be in the case of an actual emergency when there is no other means of communicating. That’s HIGHLY unlikely unless all communications have been wiped out (a la Katrina or some such). Just because there’s an emergency doesn’t mean all the rules go out the window.

    This also applies to state and federal personnel; it would be illegal for a police officer to use a modified ham radio to communicate with anyone if their own radio is functional, or their cell phone worked, etc. nor could you use such a radio around a police officer if their radio worked. (That’s not to say it would be illegal to use a modified radio to talk to the police or a rescue team or even the military if there was no other way to communicate and life and/or property were at risk; that IS allowed for, as an obvious exception).

    What’s silly to me is that even using a modified radio to transmit on FRS/GMRS or even MURS frequencies is illegal, since that hardware hasn’t been FCC certified for those frequencies. That’s a pain in the neck. Any licensed ham would know what to do/not to do in a situation like that (like turn down power to 500ma on the FRS-only freqs, etc.)

    Also, I doubt highly that any US military units use MODIFIED icom hardware; everything they use has an NSN number for procurement purposes, and unless there’s a government supplier that mods the things and resells them with an NSN, that’s not what’s going on. Further, they use a lot of Harris equipment, at least for the HF side of things.

    Just my two cents, and just common sense stuff.

  16. Donna says:

    Sometimes it is just great to stop and tell the blog owner that we like their blog.

  17. J Valentine says:

    I need help. Have a unlicenced CB operator lives behind me. He transmits right through my house I I can turn the breaker off on my house and I get readings of 900 to 1150 micro watts. My wife has been shocked 4 times. It causes pain.
    Who can I notify, don’t say the police or FCC.

  18. Bryan says:

    Cb operators don not have to be licensed, but they also cannot use amplifiers(sounds like they may be). You should probably contact the FCC and make a complaint, or locate any local Amateur Radio operators and ask for help locating the source (most love a good fox hunt).

  19. ham and eggs says:

    Ham operators break more laws than cb users ive found.
    They join together to key out people, that is illegal, they dont log these keying out sessions again illegal.
    There often heard using foul laungage that again is illegal.
    Add to that the amount of convicted paedphiles using ham radio its disgusting.
    Im a licenced ham and use to be on the cb, i used illegal channels,illegal power, but now i hunt down illegal users and will even destroy there properties if i find out there home 20.
    The only fun being a ham is the illegal stuff.
    Cunts did you no that your call sign is your stations and you cant use your mates rig in his car and use your fuckin call sign.
    i catch you fuckers doin that i will ram you off the road.
    Why are there no Sambos on ham bands

  20. doc oct says:

    @ham and eggs, yeah… you’re pretty much a hypocrite. I also think you are projecting your own miscreant behavior on the people around you. Lots of time if someone “keys” over you on HF, they are just tuning up and can’t hear you. I like how you say you hunt down illegal users and then illegally destroy their property. Or that you’d “ram” someone off the road for doing something that isn’t even illegal. Your callsign is your own, it’s not attached to your radio. How do you think field day works? Did you even pass your license or did you pay off a VE for your license?

  21. Ham and Eggs says:

    Doc oct, you are the hypocrite trying to justify those hams and there keying out sessions and putting it down to them tuning up… its illegal to tune up a rig whilst connected to an antenna.. jesus man where did you pass the test? bet you did not and bet you have not got a clue and if you did you would know how easy it is to get a ticket.. i have had mine for 19 years this august.
    I have come across bone head ham users pushing out 100 watts fm on channel 19 cb and telling everyone and catch them all the time on 27.555.. Guess what i do when i catch one… 500watt whistle and beam aimed in there direction.
    I will not tolerate hams using illegal bands frequencies.. what i choose to do it what i choose to do.
    You bastards really piss off the genuine stick to the rules pros, not the screwdriver monkeys who piss around with there rigs and when tested on a spectrum a.. the things are all over the place transmitting on many frequencies at the same time..
    It is illegal to modify electrical equipment and if you knew your salt you would bloody well know this, it has to pass stringent safety checks to be passed as legal, once you piss around with it and stretch it beyond its legal limits you are breaking the law

  22. DRKF says:

    Oh dear.

    I am ex navy telegraphist and licensed HAM in europe.

    HAM no EGGS tone does appear a bit infantile to me,
    and if making the license requires a similar amount of brain, as it did over here – then he is unlicensed pirate. I cannot imagine he is actually standing behind his words outside of the virtual reality realm where you can hide behind anonymity.
    Such a person is almost for sure pirating with someones call.

  23. expect the unexpected…

  24. Johan says:

    @Ham and Eggs

    I am a Ham from South Africa.
    I sure wish you would come try destroying someone’s equipment in SA.
    You’ll get the ass whopping of your life Bru.
    O and the run u off the road part is hilarious hope you come packing chap
    “Want die Boer sal jou hard moer”.
    Please familiarize yourself with the term Silent Key.
    Jy is nie n Ham se Gat Nie!!

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